Cannabis Genotypes and Phenotypes


Considering how common it I for people to make mistakes about cannabis genotypes and phenotypes, this article is likely long overdue. Every grower will hit that point of confusion about growing marijuana. For example, why are the exact same strains behaving differently?

If you are a new to growing, you may blame the breeder, but before you look for a different place to get your seeds read this article. It is normal for plants to grow differently even if they come from the same strain. Each seed is its own unique being so to speak; therefore, they will produce different results. This isn’t anything to be worried about.

Breaking down phenotype, genotype, and the environment

The genotype contains all the genetic information about the plants growth, the way it will look and the various traits it will develop. The genotype can change, and nothing is guaranteed, so what you may get could vary.

The environment in which your plant is grown will influence which aspects of the genotype will develop. The phenotype is a result of the genotype and the plant’s environment.

For instance, let’s say you have the intent to grow a stain that is purple. So, you choose to grow some weed plants outdoors and the others indoors. Most likely the plants you grow outdoors will be a deeper purple color when comparing it with your plants grown indoors. Even though you bought a strain that grows purple, the environment determines exactly what you are going to get.

Dispelling the myths

So now you have a basic understand about why the environment can cause the genotype to develop different phenotypes. Surprisingly enough, however, even when grown in the consistent environment the same thing can happen.

Yes, the phenotype can be different even with no changes in the environment. This happens because each seed is completely unique. It is a misunderstanding to think that all seeds from the same strain carry the exact same genetic code.

The term phenotype is often used to explain the different ways plants grow when coming from the same strain. This is actually the genotype that people are referring to. The genotype plays just as much of a role as the environment when it comes to the phenotype.

By getting seed of one particular strain you will end up with relatives of this strain that contain a lot of genetics with literally thousands of inbred siblings, but they are not the exact same. While it may be close to identical, they will vary which is exactly why marijuana plants from seeds develop differently in terms of yield, taste, and height.

Clones and seeds

Although genetics are no guaranteed, you can use clones to grow more seeds of the ones that give you the characteristics you prefer. If you keep them in a consistent environment, the clones will copy the genotype of the mother plant 100% which will lead to the exact same phenotype each time.

by Robert Bergman, founder of has been growing cannabis passionately for over 20 years and shares these insights how to grow weed to help educate growers to avoid mistakes and to fully capitalize on a bud’s potential and naturally supports the liberalization of the plant.

June 23, 2016 |
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